Mugicha is the Japanese name for a beverage made by steeping roasted barley grains in hot or cold water. The caffeine-free tea is primarily found in East Asian countries; in China, barley tea is called dàmài-chá, while its Korean name is boricha. You can also drink chilled barley tea, which is refreshing during hot summer months.\n\nBarley tea does contain gluten, so those with gluten sensitivities should avoid consuming the beverage. You can find whole-roasted barley kernels and pre-ground barley tea bags (ones made specifically for cold brews and others that can be steeped in hot water) in most Asian markets and grocery stores.\nThe roots of roasted barley tea go back to Japan's Heian era (794–1185) when it was made from parched (or dry roasted) barley flour and sugar simmered together in hot water.\n\nMugicha's reputation as a refreshing summertime beverage is thought to have coincided with the spread of refrigeration, which allowed more people to enjoy chilled mugicha. In Japan, barley is harvested in the summer, so it made sense to drink it when the grain was most available. On a hot day in Tokyo, you'll see people drinking mugicha everywhere. \nBarley tea can be an acquired taste because it has a predominantly nutty, toasty flavor with a mild, earthy bitterness. The bitterness of mugicha is akin to oolong tea rather than the more tannic black tea. Although it is caffeine-free and contains no actual tea, barley tea does taste somewhat like [genmaicha](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-make-genmaicha)—a blend of roasted brown rice and green tea leaves.\nJapanese barley tea is typically made by steeping mugicha tea bags containing roasted and fine-ground barley grains in hot water. To brew hot barley tea, bring six cups of water to a boil in a kettle or on the stove. Add the teabag, and let it steep for a minimum of 10 minutes. If using unhulled barley grains, simmer the grains in water on the stove, turn off the heat and allow it to steep, then pass the grains through a fine-mesh strainer.\n\nTo make iced mugicha, add a tea bag to a large pitcher of cold water and steep to your desired strength. Season the tea with a sweetener of your choice.\nThere are a few health benefits associated with drinking mugicha.\n\n1. __High in antioxidants__: One of the tea’s primary benefits surrounds its antioxidant properties—particularly quercetin, a flavonoid linked to heart and brain health. The tea also contains chlorogenic and vanillic acids, compounds associated with anti-inflammatory effects.\n2. __Contains melatonin__: Barley tea contains melatonin, a hormone that elicits feelings of drowsiness to help you fall asleep.\n3. __Caffeine-free__: As a coffee substitute, mugicha can offer the health benefits of cutting down on caffeine—such as reduced blood pressure and better sleep. (The same goes for any tisane, or herbal tea.)\nBecome a better chef with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Niki Nakayama, Gabriela Cámara, Chef Thomas Keller, Yotam Ottolenghi, Dominique Ansel, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.\nMugicha is a refreshing barley tea from Japan.